Northwestern Mutual Lifer Boasts Of Succession Clarity Amidst Wealth Management Aging Crisis

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Name: Tom Sanczyk

Firm: Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management

Location: Morristown, New Jersey

AUM: $460 million

Forbes Rankings: Best-In-State Wealth Advisors

Background: Sanczyk, 56, has spent his entire three decade career with Northwestern Mutual. Growing up, his father was in an accident while working for the railroad leading his family to get by on a government disability plan in what he describes as an underserved community.

In college, at Rowan University in New Jersey, he met some recent recruits to Northwestern Mutual whose footsteps he followed after graduation, a few years after his father passed away of cancer.

Investment Philosophy/Strategy: Piggybacking on Northwestern Mutual’s significant business in the insurance space, Sanczyk fosters necessary but difficult discussions about wills, trusts and estate planning as well as life and disability insurance.

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“There is so much more than rate of return as it relates to having a successful outcome for a client and their family,” he says.

Competitive Edge: While the wealth management space grapples with the increasing average age of the advisor community, Sanczyk boasts of his firm’s succession plan. His son Steven Sanczyk along with another young associate, Shail Shah, are set to take over his book of business when he retires.

“Our competitive edge is our succession plan,” he adds. “A lot of advisors are trying to figure out how to monetize their practices and what we’re trying to do is put together a succession plan so clients have continuity.”

Biggest Challenge: While there were many struggles during Covid, virtual work allowed Sanczyk and his team to speak with more clients on a daily basis and be extremely efficient, he says. While he is glad to be able to see clients in person, he does worry that the added time commitment and travel necessary will cut down on that efficiency.

Mentors: His two greatest mentors were the aforementioned college classmates who helped get him in the door at Northwestern Mutual some 30 years ago. Andy and Scott Schwartz have both left Northwestern Mutual and now work for New Jersey-based Bleakley Financial Group. He also mentions their colleague and fellow Forbes/SHOOK Top Advisor Rick Wright as a significant mentor.

What Keeps You Up At Night: While he works in finance, and has spent lots of time and effort on his own financial picture, Sanczyk is up at night thinking about his health. Having just celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary, he hopes to take good enough care of himself to reach his 60th wedding anniversary.

Favorite Book/Movie: Sanczyk was inspired by the film “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith in the true rags to riches story of formerly homeless businessman and motivational speaker Chris Gardner. He also is a fan of the extremely popular book “Principles” by Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio.

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